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Discussion Starter #1
I was on a road trip through high Colorado mountain passes. Couldn't believe it when I filled up. The next fillup I got 32 mpg. I'm not complaining. Let's assume that the pumps I got the gas those two times were accurate:

Normally I can get maybe 28 mpg on the highway, no mountain driving. What might account for the 36 mpg? I'm wondering if suddenly increased mpg might point to something weird going on in the motor, something I should check out.
 

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Honestly, I think the element's most efficient speed is about 45-55mph in 5th gear. The box doesn't hurt as bad at that speed, and the engine is torquey but low RPM.

We did 30mpg in ours going up and down switchbacks in Carmel valley while staying out there on vacation for a few days. Windows down, A/C off, 45mph, no reason to shift to below 4th gear (AKA no stops)
 

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** Just more reason to take the back roads. Saves on gas.
 

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The less dense air in the mountains reduces wind resistance which is a big player in highway fuel economy. The thin air will also reduce throttling losses of the intake system.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
The less dense air in the mountains reduces wind resistance which is a big player in highway fuel economy. The thin air will also reduce throttling losses of the intake system.
Good point. I was above 10,000' a lot and above 11,000' over the passes. And coasting down the other side! Wish 36 mpg was what I got in town :-D

Could you elaborate on the "reduce throttling losses of the intake system"?
 

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Could you elaborate on the "reduce throttling losses of the intake system"?
Going down the highway, you only need 15-20 hp. Your throttle body controls this (based on the gas pedal) by only opening enough to let the right amount of air through to produce 15-20 hp. When the air is less dense, the throttle will be open more to let the needed mass flow of air through produce the same amount of hp. This means the engine will not have to work as hard to suck the right amount of air into it, thus reducing losses and increasing efficiency.
 

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Not to rain on your parade, but the pressure switch on the gas pump handles may have been adjusted differently.
You want a serious reading, use the same pump.
 

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Not to rain on your parade, but the pressure switch on the gas pump handles may have been adjusted differently.
You want a serious reading, use the same pump.
??? Mileage divided by gallons is simple math. The OP got those results from coasting down the passes, most likely not using AC (since it's cooler at elevation), and limited acceleration on the up-slopes. Plus we tend to lace all our gas with marijuana, so everything's high (including his mileage).
 

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Or the auto shutoff in the pump handle in the 2nd fill up kicked off earlier than the 1st. Skewing his division.
 

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simple... different gas, different octane in high altitude.. it's blended that way.. did you notice the octane was MUCH lower..
retired petroleum engineer
 

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Discussion Starter #14
simple... different gas, different octane in high altitude.. it's blended that way.. did you notice the octane was MUCH lower..
retired petroleum engineer
So those who live at sea level should expect no more than 20 mpg because of the way the gas there is blended? :-o
 

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I always get my best mileage in the mountains. My personal opinion is that it has to do with torque and having a manual transmission.
 

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I most always calculate my milage by the low fuel light. I have found when the low fuel light comes on the pump shuts off within a couple tenths of 12 gals. 300 mi= 25mpg... 288=24mpg and so on. My goal for city is 300 mi. but rarely get it... more in the range of 24 mpg. My best is 380 mi. at the fuel light, aka 31.5 mpg. That was driving across the plains at 60 mph with a tail wind.
 

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Many, many years ago ( 1979-80) , we had a guy on the job buy a used Datsun- everyone else drove American cars. Gas prices had just gone up past $1.00 gallon!!
Anyway we all hatched a secret plan- we started adding a gallon or two to his tank in the parking lot-
Hey, I got 40 mpg! Hey, I got 45 mpg- we got him up to 50 mpg- then we cut the free gas off- Holy crap, he was ready to take it back the dealer- suddenly it was 25- 30 mpg- which was "normal"- as far as I know, he never found out the truth!
You could get close to 40 mpg with an old VW Beetle- if you took a nice Sunday drive at 45-50 mph- coasting up to the stop sign, no idling- higher tire pressure, etc- then when you drove it to work- don't be late, hurry up- the MPG was around 25 mpg. - of course, that was back before Gasahol became the law of the land.
 

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??? Mileage divided by gallons is simple math. The OP got those results from coasting down the passes, most likely not using AC (since it's cooler at elevation), and limited acceleration on the up-slopes. Plus we tend to lace all our gas with marijuana, so everything's high (including his mileage).
That's not how climbing and descending hills works. Mileage divided my gallons only works if you fill up the tank to the exact level, which the OP didn't do.

Gas cutoff was different, OP filled up on an incline, lots of explanations are possible. 36mpg isn't, unless it was 250 going downhill the entire way.
 

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The less dense air in the mountains reduces wind resistance which is a big player in highway fuel economy. The thin air will also reduce throttling losses of the intake system.
Less dense air means less oxygen. Unless the OP is driving a Tesla, and not an internal combustion engine, that's not how it works.
 
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